Meeting “the one” can bring a variety of different feelings and emotions. Many often describe it as those “butterflies” in their stomachs or that their heart feels like it is so full it could burst out of their chest. Being in love is an absolutely wonderful feeling, but what is actually going on inside of your body when you are experiencing those emotions? Let’s dig into what is really happening inside of your brain and your body when you are in love.
When you fall in love your brain activity actually changes. A study was conducted at Syracuse University in 2010 on what happens to your brain when you are falling in love. This specific study determined that it only takes around .2 seconds for you to fall in love. According to this study, there are 12 areas of your brain that work together to release specific chemicals that produce the “love” feeling you are suddenly immersed in.
The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, revealed that the feeling everyone talks about is actually your brain acting very similarly to the way it would if you were using cocaine. So, there is definitely some truth in the saying that falling in love is like being on drugs.
While falling in love involves different (more intellectual) areas of the brain than what would be affected when using drugs like cocaine, it causes your brain to stimulate the production of chemicals that in turn provide very similar positive “high” feelings for the body. You can find out more about the study Professor Stephanie Ortigue conducted at Syracuse University here.
Do you remember the first time you ever felt like you were falling in love? Regardless of the outcome of the relationship, that feeling is almost indescribable. Have you fallen in love multiple times? Did it feel the same or different when you fell in love with different people? Most people will say that it is hard to compare because the love you have for one person can be entirely different for another person.
The love you have for one person truly is different than for anyone else. Not only is it a completely different human being you have love for, you actually have different areas of the brain that are involved with different types of love. For example, a parental or unconditional love.
According to the same study conducted by Professor Ortigue at Syracuse, unconditional love is going to involve the “different” and “common” parts of the brain. The more passionate, romantic love is going to involve the “reward” area of the brain, alongside of the cognitive areas. So, this proves than when you are comparing loves, even different romantic loves, those people are going to stimulate different areas of the brain, and thus, you truly are experiencing a new and very different love.
When thinking about times you have fallen in love, did you have difficulty sleeping? Did it feel like it was almost too good to be true that your mind simply wouldn’t let you stop thinking about how great things are?
There is a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health specifically looking into what effects romantic love has on a person. While this study was conducted on adolescents, there is reason to believe this would also transfer to the mature, adult brain as well.
What was discovered as that adolescents who were towards the beginning of the falling in love timeline were asleep less hours than the adolescents involved in the study who were not in love. Even though they didn’t have as many sleep hours, they had increased (positive) moods in both the mornings and at night. Unlike many “typical” adolescents, they had more concentration during the day and weren’t as tired as those who were not in love. That “apple of your eye” can actually literally keep you up at night!
Isn’t it incredible what the brain can do for your body? Falling in love truly provides the brain with happy thoughts, and in turn, the brain provides the body with an overall sense of positivity. If you would like to read more about the adolescent love sleep study, you can find the entire study published on the Journal of Adolescent Health site here.
Have you heard of anyone claiming that love has alleviated them from any physical body pain? According to a study conducted in 2010 at the Stanford University School of Medicine, your brain is capable of producing chemicals in your brain that may you feel like you have less pain.
Whether you are at the start of the falling in love stage or you have been married for years but have a passionate, fire-igniting love, this love can provide you with pain relief equivalent to pain killers. Like we mentioned above, love can cause your brain to have similar reactions it would as if you were using cocaine.
Keeping this in mind, if love can stimulate your brain to produce those necessary chemicals, it has the capability of producing chemicals that can literally alleviate your pain. This is because the areas of the brain that are affected and active because of love are the same ones that drugs utilize in order to reduce pain in the body.
Because of the similarities between how love affects the brain and how drugs affect the brain, when people say being or falling in love is addicting, there is actually some truth behind that statement. They both involve almost identical brain systems and areas of the brain.
Dopamine is the common neurotransmitter that is found when describing what is happening inside the brain for any good feelings a person has. Whether that feeling is being on a high from illegal drugs, painkillers or simply being in love, dopamine is definitely involved. For more information about this specific Stanford study, head on over to the Stanford Medicine News Center here.
When thinking about the last time you fell in love, can you remember feeling forgetful? If you were really on that high from falling in love, chances are that you probably were forgetful (you just may not remember it).
The “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone” is responsible for our forgetfulness when we fall in love. This hormone actually has a name: Oxytocin. This specific hormone is typically released when there is physical touch between you and someone you are attracted to or love. This is the hormone is the one that increase your sex drive while helping you manage stress and even lower your blood pressure. Who knew this hormone could do so many great things for us?!
This hormone is known for impairing the memory, which is why often times when you hug your significant other after a fight it is actually helping you to “forget” why you were fighting. If you’d like to read more about Oxytocin, the hormone of love, you can find out more on the PsychCentral website here.
Now that we’ve learned more about what our brains do when we are in love and what happens to our hormone levels, we can now understand a bit more about why our heart “stops” when we are in love.
How many times have you heard the saying that their “heart skipped a beat?” Because being in love has an effect on our hormone levels, these hormones actually help us to decrease blood pressure, and thus, our heart rate. So, the heart doesn’t actually stop or skip a beat; it slows down.
Isn’t it amazing that your body is capable of doing all of this? You brain is able to produce chemicals and your body is able to create hormones. Your brain sends signals to your heart telling it to pump blood differently that it would normally because your body has an increased level of specific hormones. The human body is truly incredible!
When you are in love, it almost seems natural to see your jealousy side surface. Based on a study conducted by Florida State University, you actually can’t help this – it isn’t your fault! Love can actually make you overprotective of your significant other.
The study conducted at Florida State University investigated the “Dark Side of Commitment.” This study actually encompasses two different studies that both led them to determining that being in love and being committed led highly jealous people to negatively view same sex individuals.
Being in love simply means you want your significant other to yourself – you don’t want to share them with anyone else. This is 100% normal. It is just important to be able to recognized if and when your jealousy gets out of control so it doesn’t negatively affect your relationship. Keep those good vibes going and keep that high feeling of being in love alive!
For more information on the Florida State University, study check out the published study here. The study actually goes into in-depth detail on how jealousy in relationships can lead to violence within the relationship – it is actually very interesting and eye opening.
Have you ever had a friend who has been in love who has simply seemed to taste things as being much sweeter than you do? Maybe you both shared a snack but had different opinions in how it tasted – theirs being sweeter than your opinion? Again, thanks to being in love there is actually a reason for this!
According to the study “What do love and jealousy taste like?” published in PsycArticles in 2013, love and jealously legitimately have a taste! In this study, the subjects were those who were in love, happy, neutral, or who were notably jealous. Each group of subjects were given different things to eat and drink, such as sweet & sour candy, chocolates and water.
The group of subjects that were in love described the items they ate or drank with much sweeter adjectives than the groups of subjects that were neutral, happy or notably jealous. However, it is important to note that the jealous group of subject’s descriptions of the food and drinks they tried did not differ from the happy or neutral groups.
This study specifically notes that our emotions have the ability to affect the way we think, as well as having the ability to influence our judgements and actions. If you would like more information on this taste study, you can view the abstract or the entire study here.
Above we mentioned that love can affect your memory. This almost seems to go hand and hand with the idea of love causing you to become easily distracted. Most people, when asked, can attest to having a friend who seemed to be very distracted when they were at the beginning love stages with their significant other.
Being easily distracted seems reasonable when someone is falling in love. They are excited about this new chapter in their life and they are constantly thinking about their significant other. It’s easy to daydream about where this relationship could go and how life could turn out if things worked out for this relationship.
Henk van Steenbergen published a study in 2013 on “Reduced cognitive control in passionate lovers” that supports why your friend that is in love is easily distracted. This study showed that there was a correlation between passionate love and reduced efficiency in cognitive control.
Loss of cognitive control can make it difficult for you to concentrate on anything. Even focusing on basic tasks can be difficult. Being in love can be an incredible feeling, but it truly can affect your ability to concentrate as you normally would. This is extremely important for people to understand so they can realize this so it doesn’t affect their work or personal life too much!
This is really the first study that supports the idea that being in love can actually distract you (or impair the cognitive areas of your brain). So, the next time your friend falls in love and isn’t always “all there” during your coffee or lunch date, cut them some slack and be happy for them that they are experiencing all of the great happy feelings the brain gives you when falling in love.
If you’d like to read the full study Henk van Steenbergen created on the relationship of falling in love and how much control one has of the cognitive areas of their brains, you can read the abstract and purchase and download the full study here.
Have you ever noticed when a woman heightens her vocal pitch when talking to an attractive man? Good, we are glad we aren’t the only ones! This is actually extremely common, and there’s a real reason behind why the pitch of a woman’s voice increases during this scenario.
A study, published in 2011, focused on this topic specifically: “Experimental evidence that women speak in a higher voice pitch to men they find attractive.” Human beings definitely have the capability to lower and raise the pitch of their voice for the reason of their choosing. However, there are specific instances when this happens but the person doesn’t even realize they are doing it.
An example of this is when a woman is speaking to a man she may feel is a potential mate or significant other. This study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology found evidence of this happening. Like many of the other items we’ve discussed above are caused by a specific chemical released in the brain, that is not what causes a woman to do this.
Other studies have shown that men are more attracted to women with higher-pitched voices. This seems to be a natural attraction engrained in our subconscious or simply our DNA. Regardless, over the years (and thus the evolution of human love relationships) women have figured out what men find to be more attractive about potential long-term candidates for a relationship.
This specific study confirmed that women spoke in a higher pitch when they were talking to men who they felt would be a potential mating candidate. This is essentially a “mating effort” women are making in order to attract the men they prefer as their potential mates. When you break it down like that, it makes more sense, doesn’t it?
So, the next time you find yourself rolling your eyes when hearing a friend raise her vocal pitch, remember she’s just trying to find her life partner. If you would like to read more about this study, you can read more on the Enlighten: Publications website here.
Another incredible correlation researchers have connected with falling in love is stronger bones. A study posted in the Osteoporosis International Journal dives into the effects of love on a human’s bones. It is important to note that this study focuses more on long-term relationships or marriages, versus the previous effects of love noted are more focused on the first chapters of the love created in a relationship.
Not surprisingly, this study showed different results for men than it did women. The study revealed that men who have never been married, or were no longer in a relationship (divorced, separated, windowed, etc.) had significantly lower bone mineral density than men who were on their first marriage. This study also revealed that men who were married before turning 25 had lower bone mineral density than those who were married at age 25 or older.
Women, on the other hand, didn’t have as significant of a correlation between bone mineral density and marriage as the men did. However, the study revealed that women who had better support from their spouses had increased bone strength. This was not the result, however, for the men.
Overall, the study revealed that a loving marriage full of support and consistency have the ability to aid in protecting your bone health. You can read more about this study that was published in 2014 here.
There are three stages of love: lust, attraction and attachment. Lust is typically defined as when you are simply physically attracted to someone and you may have a desire sexually for this person. Attraction is when you get those “heart skipped a beat” moments; that person is the only one to ever cross your mind. This is the stage when you may sleep less and find yourself daydreaming more.
Attachment is the stage when you realize your relationship is lasting; it’s a viable relationship! This is typically the point when you realize you are falling in love and you begin to feel all of the incredible effects love has on your body.
So what really does happen to your body when you fall in love?
- Your hormone levels will increase à estrogen, testosterone, oxytocin
- Your brain releases an incredible amount of dopamine
- Your brain’s serotonin levels increase
- Your body reacts to these hormone and chemical changes
What should you expect to notice when you are falling in love?
- Love is literally physically addictive.
- You many nervously sweat, feel the heat in your rosy cheeks and experience an increased heart rate.
- You may have a lack of appetite, aka lovesick (you can thank your stress hormones for this one).
- Your brain and heart communicate to create those butterflies in your stomach.
- The hormones created when you touch your lover can help you feel less stressed, anxious or angry.
- Your lover becomes the number one thing you think about and you are consumed (or some would say distracted) by them.
- Your pupils can actually dilate when you are looking at the person you love (warning: you may not be able to take your eyes off of your lover).
- Your brain is so excited to be in love it may actually cause you to act foolishly.
- Your voice pitch may get higher.
- Your sex drive will reach an incredible peak when you are first in love.
- You may not sleep as much as you did before you fell in love.
- Your pain may be alleviated thanks to the “love” chemicals in your brain.
There are seemingly endless positive effects love has on a person, and we are sure there will be more discovered in the future. Your brain, heart and body loves when you are in love!
Falling in love in an incredible feeling that is difficult to replicate unless you fall in love again or involve yourself with drugs (not recommended). All of these things that happen within your body when you fall in love do not last long – they eventually wear off – so embrace and love what is happening to your body while you can. What are you waiting for? Get out there and find love!